07/03/2014 | by Hannah Ustel
Before you learn how to ride a skateboard, you need to choose a skateboard. Choosing the correct skateboard or ‘set-up’ will make it considerably easier to learn as your board will be will be purpose built for you and easier to ride. We’ll guide you through the process of setting up your board, explain more about skateboard equipment you’ll be riding and lay out why making the right decisions about what to skate will enhance your skateboarding.
Your local skate shop should be your first port of call as a skateboarding beginner. There you’ll be able to buy skateboarding kit and get advice on how and where to skate. It’s also a great place to meet the skaters in your local area and find people to go skating with.
Check online to find your local shop as its your best resource to check out whilst starting skateboarding. While you can pick up kit online, a good skate shop will be full of people who’ve been skating for years who’ll be able to help you out. They can recommend which products you’ll need to get yourself started and introduce you into the world of the skateboarding.
Skateboard decks come in all shapes and sizes and depending on your age, size and skill level you’ll need a different type of board. For example there are a range of decks made for children called Mini-Boards, which are roughly 7 inches wide and are much smaller and easier to manoeuvre for smaller feet.
Alternatively there are larger sized decks for adults which range from 7.5 – 10 inches wide. Most decks have a defined nose and tail, depending on where that is where you will put your front and back foot whilst skating.
Another important aspect of skateboard decks is something known as the concave. This is the curved shape of the board and this is different on every single board. Some boards have very mellow concave and are essentially very flat, some have a very steep concave and are very curved. There’s no perfect shape so try out a few boards by standing on them and see which one feels most comfortable.
Trucks are the metal axles underneath your board that help you to turn. Trucks are available in varying heights, widths and have different amounts of turning ability.
The most important thing about skateboard trucks is that you can tighten them or make them looser with a tool to make them feel more comfortable whilst skating. For example if your trucks are too tight, you won’t be able to turn your board and if they are too loose your board will feel out of control. Its important to get this right as the more you weigh the more pressure you put on the trucks and the slower they will respond to your body’s movements while skating.
Modern skateboard wheels are made from urethane and they grip the surface you roll on. The most important thing about choosing wheels is the difference between hard wheels and soft wheels. Hard wheels will roll faster and slide more while soft wheels have more grip, roll slower and slide less.
Its all comes down to personal preferance, there’s no hard or fast rules. Bear in mind that if you’re intending to skate on rough surfaces, soft wheels will roll faster then hard wheels. Alternatively on smooth surfaces, hard wheels will become very responsive to the turning motions of your body.
Skateboard bearings are located inside you skateboard wheels, there are two inside each wheel and they help your wheels spin and gain and maintain speed whilst skating.
Bearings are usually the cheapest part of the board but they are also one of the most important. They’re classified by the ABEC rating system which ranges from ABEC 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9. The higher the number the more efficient and more speed the bearing can handle – they also get more expensive.
The lower the rating the less precise but more durable the bearings are. Most boards come loaded with ABEC 3s but consider moving up to ABEC 5s once you start improving.
Bearings need to be looked after as their performance degrades if they’re not maintained so make sure to clean and lubricate them. You’ll soon notice if you’re bearings get damaged as the board will not run smoothly or quickly.
Skate shoes are are built to protect your feet and ankles and maximise your board control. Non skate shoes lack the necessary functionality and durability to withstand long periods of skateboarding, therefore skate shoes are not just good for your feet but are good for your wallet as they are more cost effective.
There are hundreds of skate shoe types, you should try on as many as possible to find the ones that you feel the most comfortable skating in.
When you’re just starting out with your board a helmets and knee-pads is a good idea as you may be spending a fair bit of time falling over initially. If you’re braving a vert ramp or other large ramp then definitely wear protective equipment as you can easily break bones or hurt themselves. Make sure you’re helmets and pads fit securely. If they’re too tight or loose they won’t be nearly as effective.